End of the World Revisited

I am homeless, wandering, some connection with others who then are gone. I am in a city. I have a plastic bag with some things in it. Other than that I have nothing. I am wandering the streets. Some contact with others who then go their own way. I have nowhere to go, nothing to do. I briefly think of going to a news agency to get a paper so I can look up the Classifieds but that idea dies. In a few days I will be less acceptable to society; bearded, smelly, dirty clothes, and thus less able to get out of this condition. Yet there is nothing I can do about it. No one to rescue me. Night is falling; nowhere to go. This reality is sinking in remorselessly. No escape. In one scene I am crossing a field against a stiff, bitter wind. It blows something out of my hand and I turn to retrieve it but then I think “O, I chose this direction against the wind!” I then let go of my attachments (the ‘something’) and turn to face the bitter wind once more and press on. I have affirmed my choice. 

This dream in 2021 is the latest permutation of a decades-long repetitive dream in which I am stripped of all ordinary human attachments and sense of belonging. In all previous variations I am shown to be a baffled and distressed victim of inexplicable circumstances swirling around me while disengaging me from connection with other human beings. Over the years, the dream often ended with my state of bewildered or frustrated alienation, or fear. In the early years of this dreaming, the dream outcome gained frighteningly literal proportions as I have recorded in my autobiography.1 In this most recent variation, I (at last) affirm my choice to enter that condition of being “stripped bare”—no longer the victim.

Fate becomes destiny!

In the “early days”of this dreaming (80’s and 90’s) I also had endured dream-visions that brought, or rather forced my attention to the theme of the end of the world. My doctoral dissertation focussed on the experience of the end of the world and on the end of the world as.a crisis of consciousness.2 These dream-visions also felt fateful at the time—a violent “being-done-to-me”. I felt coerced into the work of articulating and shaping the experience and objectivity of end times in terms of the contemporary world picture. I felt alone in the wilderness. The inner impulse pushing me to do so would not relinquish its hold in me. I was forced into studying, researching, drawing from a wide range of academic or specialised disciplines in order to say the impossible: how can the end of the world be understood as objectively real as the end of the physical earth, or solar system, yet distinguishable from such literal claims? We know that such prophetic claims have been have been made for thousands of years, along with their often quite definite end-time dates, and none have come true, at least according to our contemporary claims as to what counts as knowledge, as we will see.

A break-through finally came around 1995 when I read a single paragraph in Owen Barfield’s Saving the Appearances:

The actual evolution of the earth we know must have been at the same time an evolution of consciousness.

This simple declaration cleared the way for my future endeavours. Barfield is not saying merely that an evolution of consciousness gives us better ways of perceiving and knowing the same real world that we now experience today. He is not talking about how our ideas of the same earth improve over time—a history of ideas! No, the words that struck me and resonated with my own experience were “the actual evolution of the earth…”. It’s easy to miss the strength of his claim but I knew I could support his stance with the strength of my visionary experiences. The momentum of my efforts slowly began to shift my stance from that of a victim of an unstoppable insistence to more of a conscious participant with that insistence.

Expressing the objective truth of the end of the world, in the context of our contemporary world picture dominated by science/technology as we know, became my task, my destiny, and so, once again, in 2021, I will revisit the phenomenon of the end of the world and its objective truth, while facing the bitter wind of our scientific certainty that acknowledges the truth of only one world—the world that science calls the physical earth which is predicted to expire in 4.5 billion years or so. Any other “end of the world” or “end times” must then refer to a private mental state or the collective belief system of some marginalised group, or an outmoded theological position rooted in the past, or the environment, possible demise of our species, etc. —not to be taken too seriously, as we can see from the desperate attempts to “return to normal” today.

I invite you to come with me as I now turn into the bitter wind…

(From the Preface of my longer essay: The End of the World Revisited)